Catherine Bellis wins 2016 WTA Honolulu title

The 17 year old American will have a new career high ranking on Monday.

Catherine Bellis’ days of having to fool around with qualifying draws could be coming to an end. The teenager won the WTA Honolulu title on Sunday with a win over Shuai Zhang in the final. The match took just over one hour to complete with Bellis winning 6-4, 6-2.

The Hawaii-based tournament, a part of the $125K series on tour, is not a well-contested event. For example Bellis entered the tournament ranked 90th in the world and that was still good enough for the fourth seed. However, in winning the title the American won 160 ranking points and she should be up to the World No. 75 position on Monday. If she can maintain that then she’ll safely avoid qualifying draws for all the Grand Slams.

The 17 year old American, who burst on the scene a couple of years ago with a US Open match-win over Dominika Cibulkova, had an amazing tournament in Honolulu. No player was able to extend Bellis to a tiebreaker as she won all sets she played in by at least one break. Except for Zhang, there was no one in the tournament from the Top 25 and that will prevent Bellis’ย title from becomingย major news. However, winning a low-tiered tournament in straight sets without tiebreakers, walkovers, a bye, or a win via retirement proves that Bellis is ready to start competing in the bigger events.

Furthermore, the win is in the context of many low-tiered wins of late. In October, Bellis won two ITF events in Canada. Furthermore, at the 2016 US Open the young American won two matches, including one against Shelby Rogers. With a growing number of wins over players in the Top 50, I think 2017 will be a learning year for her. However, I still think she can make it into the Top 40 before the end of the upcoming season.

As for her future as an elite player, the American is a runaway leader when you look at the too-young-to-vote contingent of players with WTA rankings. Anna Kalinskaya of Russia is also 17, however she is ranked 187th in the world, more than 100 rankings lower than Bellis. If you were to crack out the crystal wall and pick two players right now that might emerge as big-match rivals in the next decade, I think you would name Bellis and Belinda Bencic.

Photo by si.robi

Shane Lambert